As we emerge from the doldrums of the economic downturn, people are rediscovering sparkling wine and Champagne. Bubbles can be sanity-saving– salve a bad day, make Meatloaf Night an occasion or help celebrate a holiday. Luckily these days, high-quality sparkling wine comes in all price points. So whether you have a Hamilton or a Franklin in your wallet, it’s easy to toast to the good life. In the $10 – $25 range, the choices appear endless. From super affordable Italian Prosecco and Cava to carefully crafted Californian sparklers, the wine lover wins. Most French Champagne and American sparkling wines are made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes (a third red variety, Pinot Meunier, is often blended in). But Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava producers use indigenous grapes that are easier and less expensive to grow. And, as the infomercials say, the savings are passed along to us.
Read more: Bubbles for all budgets: Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava and Prosecco
The market for sparkling wine has exploded like demand for Bradjolina’s sold out French rosé. I’m happily seeing more bubblies now than ever before, especially from the west coast of the U.S. There are a couple of reasons why. One is that people are demanding them — mostly millennials seeking the unique and the bubbly. And two, the advent of “custom crush” facilities, now equipped with sparkling wine production equipment (a completely different way of making wine), are making it easier and less expensive to make these fun, effervescent grogs. Oregon’s Sokol Blosser has jumped onto the sparkling bandwagon with a refreshing, slightly sweet sparkling wine made with nine different grape varieties.
Read more: Wine review: Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine
‘Tis the season to grab the bubblies and head to parties (or host your own at home). About 80% of all sparkling wine sales happen between November 1 and December 31st — there’s something about celebrating the holidays which creates a Pavlovian response to sparkles in our glass. We. Must. Drink. Them. And drink them we shall… whether you have a Hamilton or a Franklin in your wallet, it’s easier these days to toast with bubbles. Fairly easy to find through the U.S., ask for these wines by name at your local indie wine retailer.
Read more: Sparkling wine, Prosecco and Champagne: Bubblies for all budgets
For many sparkling wine houses, this time of year produces 50% of their sales. Tis a shame that wine drinkers save up their bubbles and celebrate fizz strictly in December — a bottle of bubbly could be a celebration unto itself. But perhaps our American puritanical roots prevent us from indulging too often? Ever the eschewer, that doesn’t stop me. Come join me in my every day gustatory party with this list of consistently well-made, delicious bottles of sparkling bubbly and Champagne
Read more: Bubbles for all occasions: Great sparkling wine and Champagne for the fizzy holiday
Ah… true Champagne. I still remember when I was introduced to this elixir otherwise known as Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne — shortly before I became a wine writer, a wealthy friend bestowed a bottle of their Brut bubbly as a Christmas gift. At $40, it was far and above what a lowly poor girl such as myself could afford. And I wallowed in its elegant beauty — completely worth the money. The rose is no exception.
Read more: Wine review: Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose Champagne
In my opinion, Rosa Regale is the quintessential romantic wine and chicks seriously dig it — a sweet, rich dessert sparkler from the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s an absolutely perfect sparkling wine for a wedding, served with a decadent wedding cake, or to accompany berry-laden tarts… even ice cream sprinkled with raspberries.
Read more: Sweet sparkling wine review: Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui
Sexy, sultry, sensuous, luscious — ever wondered why these words are used to describe wine? Could it be that wine leads us down the road to romance? To desire? Wine certainly pairs with Valentine’s Day. But does romance have to rule the day on Valentine’s? What if this Hallmark holiday conjures up bitterness and resentment rather than romance? For the “singles” out there, it might be black and depressing. So I started wondering about how this day has become inextricably linked with romance.
Read more: Wines for Valentine’s Day: For romance, love or massacres?
A dear friend gave me a 1.5 liter magnum of this elegant sparkling wine for Christmas and I almost peed my pants. (Available to buy online only, by the way). There’s nothing quite like looking at a family-sized bottle of bubbly and savoring the ensuing drinking fantasies. I haven’t opened the behemoth yet but the little 750-milliliter brothers of the California sparkler are a staple in my house. A blend of 49% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir and 2% Pinot Meunier grapes, Cuvee 20′s new, sleek packaging celebrates Judy Jordan’s 25 years of making sparkling wine in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. They’ve had some time to get it right using the same production methods and grape varietals established in France. Sure, not that long in French Champagne terms but, hey, we’re a new country full of zeal, still finding our wine way.
Read more: Sparkling wine review: J Winery Cuvee 20 Brut
My history with Napa Valley’s Schramsberg Winery goes back a few years. Back in 2006, I spent a day during harvest in 2006 with their former winemaker, Craig Roemer, and a few days at their incredible sparkling winemaking immersion course, Camp Schramsberg, in 2010. So you might say I possess an affinity for their outstanding bubbly. It’s elegant like French Champagne, remains family-owned and their quality is consistent like the sun setting.
Read more: Sparkling wine review: Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Brut 2007
I tasted the black label M. Chevallier Carte Noire Cava with trepidation and suppressed my high hopes, attempting to give it a fair and balanced assessment (which is tough without tasting blind). But I was pretty damn impressed. That was a few months ago. Now, it’s my house pour on a Sunday morning, sometimes mixed with tangerine or orange juice for mimosas, sometimes straight up. It all depends on what kind of eggs we’re having.
Read more: Wine review: The best $5 bubbly you can buy — M. Chevallier Cava